More than 350 young adults from across the Eastern Diocese met over Memorial Day Weekend, for the 2023 ACYOA General Assembly and Sports Weekend at St. Leon Church in Fair Lawn, NJ. Photos by Vardan Sargsyan and Diran Jebejian

Faith and Action Shine at 2023 ACYOA Sports Weekend


By Andrew Yenicag

FAIR LAWN, N.J. — More than 350 Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) Seniors and young adults from across the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America met for the 2023 ACYOA General Assembly and Sports Weekend over Memorial Day Weekend, hosted by the ACYOA Seniors of St. Leon Church in Fair Lawn, NJ.

Presiding over the General Assembly, addressing the delegates, and taking part in the whole weekend of spirited fellowship was the Primate of the Eastern Diocese, Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan.

The weekend kicked off on Friday, May 26, with the 2023 ACYOA General Assembly. Some 65 ACYOA chapter delegates, observers, and Diocesan clergy came together for a day of reflection on the ACYOA’s past year of ministries, discussions about the organization’s bright future, and elections to the ACYOA Central Council.

The 2023 Assembly also marked the dawn of a new era for the ACYOA, as the voting body officially approved a series of revisions to the ACYOA Bylaws. The ACYOA will move forward with a Stewardship Program for its membership, in place of fixed membership dues. In addition, current and future ACYOA chapters will have the option to form regional chapters and to establish campus groups, providing additional opportunities for young adults to engage with the ACYOA.

In addition to the Primate, and St. Leon pastor Fr. Diran Bohajian, a large contingent of clergy attended the ACYOA Assembly and Sports Weekend. These included Fr. Simeon Odabashian (Diocesan Vicar), Fr. Aren Jebejian (St. John, Southfield, MI), Fr. Andreas Garabedian (St. Gregory, Chicago, IL), Fr. Avedis Kalayjian (St. Mesrob, Racine, WI), Fr. Krikor Sabounjian (Holy Translators, Framingham, MA), Fr. Haroutiun Sabounjian (Holy Resurrection, New Britain, CT), Fr. Nigoghos Aznavourian (St. Mark, Springfield, MA), Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian (St. Peter, Watervliet, NY), Fr. Daniel Karadjian (St. Stepanos, Elberon, NJ), Fr. Abraham Malkhasyan (Holy Martyrs, Bayside, NY), and Fr. Voski Galstyan (St. George, Hartford, CT).

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The ACYOA members were overjoyed by this show of support, and expressed thanks to all of the clergy of the Diocese for their continuing encouragement of the organization and its youth.

Diocesan Primate Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan at ACYOA Sports Weekend, with the athletic squad from hosting parish St. Leon Church of Fair Lawn, NJ. Photos by Vardan Sargsyan and Diran Jebejian

Elections and Awards

During the assembly sessions, delegates elected the officers to serve on the 2023-24 ACYOA Central Council. Re-elected for a second two-year term were Ani Misirliyan (who will serve as Chair) and Andrew Yenicag (Communications). Jackie Russell was elected as a new member, and will serve as Vice Chair. These will join returning Central Council members Mardig Klachian (Ministries and Outreach), Yn. Lucine Sabounjian (Ministries and Outreach), Maddie Ovassapian (Secretary), and Michael Sarafian (Treasurer). The elected alternate is Elizabeth Kalfayan (Holy Resurrection, New Britain, CT).

The ACYOA Central Council members expressed gratitude to outgoing member Christine Beylerian McNally for her dedicated and passionate service to the ACYOA and Armenian Church.

During the Friday afternoon Primate’s Luncheon, ACYOA Central Council presented its annual awards to individuals and chapters for their service and dedication to the organization and Armenian Church. Awards and recipients appear immediately below.

ACYOA Seniors “Chapter A” Award: St. Gregory the Illuminator ACYOA (Chicago, IL)

Sam Nersesian Service Award: Charles Babikian (St. Gregory the Illuminator, Chicago, IL)

Gregory Arpajian Leadership Award: Aline Tashjian (St. Leon, Fair Lawn, NJ)

Very Rev. Fr. Haigazoun Melkonian Award: Rev. Fr. Ghevond Ajamian (St. Sarkis, Carrollton, TX)

Rev. Fr. Haroutiun and Yn. Patricia Dagley Award: Zaven and Marilyn Dadian (St. John, Southfield, MI)

Diocesan Primate Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan at ACYOA Sports Weekend, with the athletic squad from St. John Church of Southfield, MI. Photos by Vardan Sargsyan and Diran Jebejian

Social Functions and Sports Competitions

On Friday evening, weekend attendees relaxed at Stumpy’s Hatchet House in Upper Saddle River, NJ. Guests participated in axe throwing and a variety of other games, while getting to reunite with old friends and meet new ones.

Saturday marked an action-packed day of sports as teams representing ACYOA chapters across the Diocese competed in Co-Ed Volleyball, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Backgammon, Chess and two e-sports. Crowds gathered to witness the spirited competition at River Dell High School in Oradell, NJ and at the St. Leon Armenian Church Youth Center for the championship games on Sunday.

The following teams and individuals brought home first place trophies to their parish communities:

Co-Ed Volleyball: St. John (Southfield, MI)

Men’s Basketball: St. Leon (Fair Lawn, NJ)

Women’s Basketball: St. John (Southfield, MI)

Backgammon: Lucine Beylerian (St. Leon, Fair Lawn, NJ)

Chess: Hovsep Nahapetyan (St. Sarkis, Carrollton, TX)

Mario Kart: Jack Dadian (St. Leon, Fair Lawn, NJ)

Super Smash Bros.: Andre Balian (St. Leon, Fair Lawn, NJ)

On Saturday evening, participants danced at Carpaccio’s, a restaurant at American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, NJ, offering views of New York City and MetLife Stadium.

Final Blessings

On Sunday, attendees participated in the Divine Liturgy at St. Leon Church in Fair Lawn, celebrated by the Primate, Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan. Following the badarak, attendees mingled with parishioners of the St. Leon community during fellowship hour and watched the championship games.

The weekend concluded with the Sunday evening gala banquet. After inspiring messages from the Primate and Fr. Diran Bohajian, attendees enjoyed live entertainment by Harout Bedrossian.

The ACYOA Central Council congratulates the New Jersey General Assembly and Sports Weekend Committee, St. Leon ACYOA Seniors, and the parish community for their incredible efforts in organizing the weekend.


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